Douglas Fraser, a well-known musicologist and entertainer passed away on the morning of Dec. 24th of natural causes at the age of 69.
Originally born in Ontario, Douglas primarily worked is the United States, but relocated to Vancouver and eventually Walnut Grove to care for his ill father in recent years.
Fraser’s path crossed with seemingly endless amounts of performing arts icons over a six decade period.
“I grew up on the road going from stage to stage, standing in the wings,” Fraser told the Langley Advance Times this past summer. “I studied my whole life right from the horses mouth. I would overhear a stories and pay my sister to write it all down.”
The performing arts has always been in Fraser’s blood – his father was a Ringling Brothers Circus member, and later, vaudevillian performer with partner Danny Thomas.
Fraser’s mother performed on the Shubert and Albee Circuits in vaudeville, and his maternal grandmother toured with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West.
Parties with celebrities likes Orson Welles and Bing Crosby became average evenings; he was part of the jug band resurgence in the 1960s, later touring with acts including Blood, Sweat and Tears, Brian Adams and Sweeney Todd, Boz Scaggs, George Carlin, Donna Summers, Earth, Wind and Fire, and Buddy Rich.
More recently, Fraser served as the opening act for The Kingston Trio while offering up a uniquely crafted history performance of North America’s musical past.
Equipped with a banjo, a guitar, and his own voice, Fraser painted a picture of the burgeoning entertainment scene between the 1840s to 1930s through specially designed performances.
“What I do is explain history and perform songs. I have never crossed paths with anyone who does the same thing,” Fraser said.
Fraser had additionally spoken at schools, managed a New Westminster theatre, and published the book Early Entertainment which expands on many of the stories one would hear in his shows.
Before his time in the Fraser Valley, the musicologist served as the leader of the Genuine Jug Band as well as the music director and Knott’s Berry Farm.
He brought his one-man show at the Fort Langley Jazz and Arts Festival (FLJAF) this past July, offering up forgotten songs and history lessons through the course of the three-day event.
FLJAF released a statement on Dec. 28, thanking Fraser for his unique style and passion for entertainment.
“Douglas led our History of Jazz presentations at the 2019 Fort Langley Jazz & Arts Festival and we had plans to expand his presentations at the 2020 festival. Douglas was very knowledgeable about the history of American and Canadian jazz and people who took in his festival presentations found them very entertaining and information. Thank you Douglas for your contributions to keeping the history of music alive and for your contributions to the festival,” the statement read.
Fraser leaves behind his wife Jennifer Nelson and his two daughters, Jaime and Nikki Fraser. A celebration of life will be held in late January.
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